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PC Powers Itself Down Radomly

Posted on 2006-11-12
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Last Modified: 2010-04-26
Hi Everyone:

         I have been trying to run McAfee Anti-Virus to check for malware.  After an extended period of time, about an hour, the computer shuts itself down.  I am able to power back up without any problems though.  In any case, I am interested in any tips or suggestions for correcting what seems to be a power management issue with this pc.

         Thank you.

         George
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Question by:GMartin
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Assisted Solution

by:irwinpks
irwinpks earned 50 total points
ID: 17927080
go to power management, then choose NEVER-NEVER-NEVER...turn off hibernation

does the system power down gracefully, or just lose power?
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by:zlito
zlito earned 50 total points
ID: 17927359
Check the power supply and the cpu fan it could be that when you run some thing for a long time it draws too much power from the power supply. Or the cpu fan may not be spinning or slowing down. Check the eveny viewer to see if it gives you any clues. Dose the happen with any thing else besides McAfee? If not uninstall it and reinstall to see if it helps, there are some great free ware antivirus out there.
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by:smiffy13
smiffy13 earned 100 total points
ID: 17927434
Power down's are often caused by the CPU overheating. Can you see if all your fans are working properly, not clogged up with years of dust etc. Also have a look at the heatsink & fan. If you need a temperaure monitor program: download a free copy of Speedfan http://www.almico.com/speedfan.php
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by:mikeilasdad
mikeilasdad earned 50 total points
ID: 17927548
Does it alway seem to last for a while before arbitrarily shutting down?  If so, then as smiffy13 has indicated, it's very likely that there is a heat issue.  If you can turn it right back on, and it'll keep going for another hour or so, then that theory loses a little credence thanks to thermodynamic inertia.  In other words, if I'm driving down the road and I overheat, and I stop for a few seconds and head right back down the road - it's not going to last as long the second and third failure because I haven't given it time to cool.  

With that said, if there are times when it kicks off much sooner (or I can fire it right back up and continute), then it could even be possible that the power supply is either flaking out or has a cold solder joint, etc.  They can become extremely sensitive to vibrations such as walking across a floor (unless you're on a concrete slab), bumping the case with your leg, or even setting a drink on your desk.  

Check your fans, make sure they're blowing, etc.  If you use a temp monitor program, hopefully it keeps a logs, because monitoring live readings would be a little bit of a pain in the neck (a watched pot never boils, etc).

Also possible to a lesser degree depending on situation is the possibility of someone using a remote shutdown utility on you (such as EMCO Remote Shutdown or some freeware shutdown utility).  I've tortured coworkers with those utilities in days gone by.  You'd be open for that if you didn't have some sort of firewall (software or hardware) or if someone is already on your network.  In the case of being at home, it could be someone who is using your wi-fi (if it doesn't require authentication).  Try running the PC for a few hours disconnected from the network/internet to see whether it still buys the farm.  If so - it's very likely to be either the CPU or the Power Supply.

Best of luck.
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Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 17927585
Hi Everyone:

         Thanks so much for the prompt replies.  As a followup question to the replies, could some brief introduction be given to Speedfan?  Basically, what exactly am I looking for when running this program?

          George
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Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 17927596
Hi

      In response to when the shutdowns happen, I noticed it three times so far.  Once when making a backup of a DVD and secondly when I ran McAfee today.  Interestingly, when it shuts down suddenly and without warning, it powers right back up without any problems.  In fact, I am able to continue using it for hours.  It seems to be most vulnerable to shutting down whenever the pc is in a state of inactivity (e.g. keyboard and mouse not being used, etc.).

       George
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by:smiffy13
smiffy13 earned 100 total points
ID: 17927622
Speedfan will (among other things) show you what temperatues your motherboard, system and CPU are running at. The highest temperature reading is your CPU, if this is approaching 70C or more then it's likely your system is shutting down because your CPU is overheating.
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by:smiffy13
ID: 17927669
In response to your second comment: you say the PC is inactive, but previously you said it occured when you ran the Adaware scan or during a DVD backup, scans and backups are likely to work your CPU fairly hard thereby raising the temperature. If this is the case I suspect that the heatsink may not be fixed to the CPU properly. Speedfan should show the temperature increase. If it's just randomly shutting down when nothing is running, then the issue could still be heat - like an inconsistent fan, or it could be something else: memory, motherboard, power supply etc.
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by:InfoStranger
InfoStranger earned 50 total points
ID: 17928295
Also, check the Autoupdates for Microsoft.
From the Control Panel > Open Auto Updates.
Select Download Updates and let me choose when to install them.
By default, it is reset to install on it's own.  Some require a restart, so it will automatically shutdown and restart on it's own.

Since you saw it shutdown 3 times, check your event log.  Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Event Viewer.  See what it says.  It may be what smiffy13 said about the fan or overheating.  You want to look for errors or warnings.

When it shutsdown, does it start back up by itself or do you have to turn it on?
Does the case feel very hot?
Also, can you reproduce the same results?  If results can be reproduced, it is easier for us to find a solution.
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Expert Comment

by:sssihl_dmacs
ID: 17928433
Have you checked your memory? sometimes a faulty RAM can also lead to intermittent restarts
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by:nobus
nobus earned 50 total points
ID: 17929286
hi George; i want you to know that shutdowns can be caused by almost anything, hard and soft.
you can : run tests on parts and devices, or disconnect them and test.
or disable programs with msconfig.
up to you which route you want to try first - tell me, and i'll guide you further.
i would first disconnect all devices not needed for testing, like extra disk and cd drives, cards, ram sticks.
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Expert Comment

by:smurteira
ID: 17930438
Try updating your BIOS.  I had the same problem on a laptop.  Problem was my bios had some issues with Windows XP service pack2.  It would start fine the fan would run and after sometimes 5 sometimes 10 sometimes an hour I guess depending on usage it would shut itself down, then I'd start it back up and the fan would work normally and not problems for hours till I shut it down myself.  Try updating the BIOS see if it helps.
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Accepted Solution

by:
willcomp earned 150 total points
ID: 17934503
Prime suspects in my opinion are either a faulty power supply or a failing or weak capacitor on motherboard.  Both can and do cause random shutdowns.

I would first replace power supply and see if that remedies the problem.  If not, motherboard replacement may be required.

Inspect capacitors on motherboard for signs of swelling or leakage.  Tops should be flat, no bulging on sides, and no electrolyte leakage.  Visible damage positively identifies capacitor as probable cause.  Absence of visible damage does not mean that capacitors are good though.

Go ahead and monitor temperatures and fans on the outside chance it's a thermal issue.  As a general rule, PC will not restart immediately when CPU overheats.

To eliminate Windows as the cause, you can boot from a live Linux CD (e.g. Knoppix or Ubuntu) and run system for several hours to see if it shuts down.  Again, does not appear to be an OS problem (Windows usually either freezes or reboots rather than shutting down).
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Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 17975492
Hi Everyone:

         Thanks so much for the wide variety of troubleshooting suggestions to this post.  The problem is finally resolved now as a result of trying to solve another unrelated problem with the pc, namely, winlogon.exe application error at startup and shutdown.  Using anti-malware utilites like HiJackThis and AVG Anti-Spyware 7.5, I was able to finally resolve this issue along with the winlogon.exe error message.  I must confess, like majority of the experts here, I was thinking this problem most likely was due to a hardware defect.  However, in this particular situation, the culprit was software in nature which appeared to be hardware.  

          On a sidenote, it is interesting to note that McAfee Anti-Virus gave the report the system was clean when in fact it was infected with malware as revealed by HiJact This and AVG Anti-Spyware 7.5.  So, when checking for malware, I have learned so far the best thing to do is use a battery of test instead of relying just on one.

          In any case, the pc has not randomly powered down since the malware cleanup using the tools mentioned.  With that in mind, I must conclude the problem is now resolved.

          Thanks again everyone for the insightful input to this post.  I found each response full of good information and certainly germane to the question.

          Great job everyone!!

         George
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by:irwinpks
ID: 17975984
cool. thank you!
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